Daily Reflection
January 8th, 2000
Mary Haynes Kuhlman
English Department
1 John 4:7-10
Psalms 72:1-4, 7-8
Mark 6:34-44

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Today's Epistle and Gospel both contain well-known passages.  "God is Love" says this First Epistle of John.  Haven't we all seen those three words on a bumper sticker or a plaque or a liturgical banner?  Too obvious?  Not as we pray with these words!  The passage begins:  "Beloved, let us love one another."  And "for God is Love"-- not just a slogan on a bumper or a banner, but a truth shown forth, manifested, when God sent his Son as our Word and Savior. 

And then the Gospel tells us the story of how Jesus fed the five thousand hungry men with five loaves of bread and two fishes.  Who in our Western culture hasn't heard of "loaves and fishes?"  "Oh, yeah, that Jesus, he fed a crowd somehow ..." -- which makes Jesus sound like some first century Martha Stewart.  Again, more is shown, manifested here, as Jesus reveals that he is the Son of Love in this well-known, much-taught miracle. 

I recall reading as a teen-ager some historical novel set in Jesus's time in which a character tells of the loaves-and-fishes miracle to explain his faith in Jesus, and another character questions him and gets him to admit that nearly everyone in the crowd of 5000 had brought some food and that, following Jesus's example, they all shared with each other -- in other words, a "natural" explanation is given for the miracle.  I still remember my naive teen-age shock at this novel's skeptical version of the story.  Today I love it as a nice suggestion (though just a trivial fiction).  That Jesus's example would set a huge crowd to share with each other is perhaps about as good a lesson as the straight Gospel version (although the actual Gospel narrative seems far more believable!)  The lesson shown to us remains:  Jesus saves us, the whole of us (bodies and souls) in love.  And back to the Epistle:  "In this is love . . that he loved us." 

For me, a teacher of literature courses, this season of Epiphany always brings to mind how Irish wordsmith James Joyce used the word "epiphany" to mean a "showing" or manifestation, like the girl on the beach and the vision of a winged man that inspire the protagonist in a much-taught novel.   So aren't these readings clearly related to the Epiphany, to the "showing" of Jesus as Word and Savior?  Following the Epistle, "Let us love each other," and following the Gospel, let us share our "loaves and fishes," although what does that mean in my life today?   While bread and canned tuna fish are abundant in my kitchen, I think I'm being shown something more about sharing both "things" and other things like time and energy, friendship, interest, concern, all such things:  Love. 

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